Taiwan hits back at China in row over controversial Kiribati photo

Radio Taiwan International
Date: 21 August, 2020
By: John Van Trieste

A photo of China’s ambassador to Kiribati has sparked controversy online and led to a cross-strait row,

The foreign ministry has hit back at Chinese accusations that Taiwan paid for the release of a controversial photo featuring China’s ambassador to Kiribati.

The photo was released by Australian critic of Beijing Drew Pavlou. It was taken on Kiribati’s Marakei Island, and shows a row of local people lying face down to form a human red carpet for China’s ambassador to the country. The ambassador is shown walking across their backs, steadied by a local woman on each side.

The picture has met with a mixed reaction online. Some i-Kiribati people say the photo shows a welcome ceremony that is part of Marakei Island’s culture and can be seen at weddings. However, some commentators have questioned the appropriateness of the ambassador taking part in such a ceremony.

The Pacific Island nation of Kiribati had recognized Taiwan until last year, when it severed ties in favor of relations with China. Beijing alleges that Taiwan paid Pavlou to release the photo with the intention of damaging its recently-forged ties with Kiribati.    [FULL  STORY]

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